When is the UN, an international organisation designed to promote peace and help nations work together, not the ‘right venue’, to promote peace and help two nations work together? When, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, President Obama says so! Here, Sara Sajjad discusses the reasons for this apparent paradox.
Figures released by the ‘Occupied Palestinian Territory Humanitarian Needs Overview 2015’ show that the number of Palestinians killed in 2014 was 2, 325. This figure is supplemented by those 17, 121 injured, and countless others displaced. Comparatively, there were 85 fatalities suffered by Israel. The disparity in these figures suggest an extremely non-symmetric conflict, but alarmingly the President of the United States remains convinced that there is still no need for the United Nations to intervene.
Just last month, the Obama administration blocked a draft UN Security Council resolution, which aimed to end Israel’s occupation by December 2017. Despite the fact that over 100, 000 Palestinian people are internally displaced, and there are 600, 000 people living in damaged homes on the Gaza Strip, very little urgency, concern, or action is being taken to bring a much needed end to Israeli occupation. Instead the United States of America continue to supply Israel with weapons, and are thus partially responsible for the casualties and damage being caused.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) are currently considering joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) following the 50-day war over summer 2014. There is a growing belief that those acts carried out by Israel may fall under the jurisdiction and warrant investigation by a body whose purpose involves the prosecution of war criminals.
The backlash to the consideration of a lawsuit against Israel by certain US Senators has been considerable with many even threatening to cut the £265 million annually, which the United States provides to the Palestinian Authority. Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, expressed his anger at a news conference in Jerusalem, stating that the proposed lawsuit against Israel was “incredibly offensive” and “bastardising the role of the ICC”.
Any cuts in the aid would undoubtedly have a major effect on Palestine’s economy with a GDP of only $10 billion. Bizarrely, it seems that senators such as Graham view the best way of responding to those who claim to be oppressed, is to further oppress them. But why are the United States, as protectors of freedom against oppression reacting in this way?
While, USA attempts to portray its position as an ongoing loyalty towards Israel, based on ethical principles, morality has nothing to do with the stance of the United States. It is far more likely that geopolitics and strategy is the real reason- if Israel was trialled by the ICC, the USA would risk losing their leading, and much valued nuclear base within the Middle East.
Due to Israel’s access to oil and gas, indisputably, Israel’s guaranteed exports of oil and gas towards the US are highly valued, as they are recorded to export $51.9 B worth of refined petroleum to the US per year. Additionally, the continued intelligence Israel shares with the US on terrorism and Middle Eastern politics, as well as Israel’s very useful, advanced high-tech military technology, such as their counter rocket and arrow missile defence systems, have provided invaluable assistance for the US’s military and security issues over the last decade.
The relationship between the US and Israel appears to be mutually beneficial, and if Israel are trialled by the ICC, it would risk jeopardising the benefits Israel provides. Thus the US rejecting Palestine’s desperate attempts of self-determination, over 40 times since 1975 becomes more comprehensible. Rarely is the self-interested game of politics as honourable as it endeavours to portray itself as, since Israel’s potential prosecution would present a tangible threat to their sustained partnership, as even the Obama administration may have their hand forced by a negative verdict at the highest criminal court to reduce the intimacy of the relationship between the two nations.
One might ask those protesting senators and President Obama, what is the appropriate number of schools which would need to be bombed before the ICC should be called upon? How many children need to be killed whilst playing on a beach, before it is becomes reasonable to suggest at the possibility of war crimes? And what exactly is the number of innocent civilians that need to be killed before the possibility of genocide should be suggested? Are 2,325 fatalities in one year, not enough?
In light of the recent Holocaust Memorial Day, the best way possible to honour those who have died in past genocides and conflicts, is by ensuring that people in today’s world do not suffer in the same, inexcusable way. Sadly, Western powers, although experts in expressing their regret for past atrocities, never seem to feel the same empathy when dealing with current situations.
After 48 years of Israel occupying the West Bank, the UN draft resolution was immensely overdue, but still showed a glimmer of hope in ending this decade’s long conflict and crime against humanity. Once again, a legitimate solution has been rejected for incomprehensible reasons, as those in power persist to fail humanity.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.
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